PRESS FREEDOM NEWS 2014
SEEMO urges authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to protect journalists
29. December 2014.
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) was appalled to learn about yet another case of media freedom violations in Bosnia, only days after the last reaction.
Employees of the Ministry of Interior Affairs in Sarajevo, as well as members of the police, raided the offices of internet portal Klix.ba early this morning. They were sent to allegedly collect items that would help them in an ongoing investigation.
For the next several hours, journalists were asked to leave the office and wait in a separate room, while prohibited from posting content online or communicating with anybody outside of the perimeter. Their personal mobile phones, documents, USB sticks and computer hardware with data were taken away. They were told not to post anything related to the raid on their website.
SEEMO is dismayed by such developments and is calling on the government and institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina to stop these media freedom violations. Journalists must be allowed to work in a free, democratic atmosphere without pressure, censorship and intimidation.
SEEMO concerned with media freedom violations in Bosnia-herzegovina
27. December 2014.
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) was displeased to learn about yesterday’s decision by a court in the city of Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The verdict contains a temporary measure which prohibits journalists from sharing information about the alleged criminal acts of three Ministry of Interior affairs employees.
Three police officers sued the Federal public broadcaster FTV for defamation, claiming that the article written about them in Mreza was untrue.
“By instigating such a decision, Bosnian authorities have shown deep disrespect and disregard for the journalistic profession. SEEMO members were unpleasantly surprised to learn about these developments, and we insist that this court verdict is converted immediately.” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic stated.
SEEMO expressing support for Greek journalists
16 December 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) was alarmed to learn about developments in Greece on December 14th.
An event was held in the Journalists Union in Athens with the presence of government officials. Outside of the building, a group of unemployed journalists were protesting, before being violently removed by Greek riot police members. One of the journalists present was allegedly hit by riot police members.
“Freedom of speech and gathering cannot be dismissed by police or any other state institution” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said.
Police targeted the Zaman newspaper and the Samanyolu Media Group
15 December 2014
The International Press Institute (IPI), its Turkish National Committee, and the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), today condemned Turkish authorities’ raids on media outlets with links to a former ally-turned-critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and called for the release of journalists detained in the operation.
Police targeted the Zaman newspaper and the Samanyolu Media Group, both of which are tied to U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, on accusations “of founding and directing an armed terror organization, being a member of this organization, and engaging in forgery and slander,” the Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office reportedly said.
The move came one day after Erdogan announced a new campaign against Gulen and his supporters, and almost one year to the day after the eruption of a corruption scandal that threatened to bring down his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. Erdogan claims that Gulen supporters fabricated elements of the corruption allegations in an effort to oust him from power.
Some two dozen people were reportedly detained in yesterday’s operation, but it was unclear how many were still in custody, as local sources indicated some had been released.
IPI’s Turkish National Committee said in a statement yesterday that the raids were “yet another sign that striking a blow against the freedom of the press in order to solve a political problem has become a tradition in Turkey”, adding: “Just as critical journalists have been arrested in the past by alleging that they were ‘coup plotters’ or ‘terrorists’, now our colleagues are being targeted by calling them the members of ‘the parallel structure’ within the state.”
IPI Senior Press Freedom Adviser Steven M. Ellis noted that the raids were the latest in a string of incidents in which Turkey’s leaders sought to suppress media coverage of corruption allegations that have dogged the AKP.
“Last month an AKP lawmaker secured a ban on media coverage of a parliamentary inquiry into the corruption accusations,” he said. “Journalists who have reported on claims of corruption have faced criminal defamation charges or online harassment. In March, the government banned Twitter and YouTube in what was widely perceived as an effort to keep voters in municipal elections from hearing about corruption allegations.
“Pulling a veil of secrecy over accusations of corruption and targeting those who raise them, rather than seeking to rebut the allegations themselves, will serve only to undermine public confidence in the rule of law and democracy in Turkey.”
Ellis agreed that yesterday’s developments appeared to be part of a trend by Turkey’s government in recent years to use terrorism accusations to bring its critics to heel.
“In early 2012, we saw some 100 journalists behind bars in Turkey, most taken into custody on charges – and in raids – similar to those described yesterday,” he said. “That number had dropped to approximately 19 by early October of this year, but yesterday’s detentions could very well double it and make Turkey once again a contender for the title of ‘world’s leading jailer of journalists’. Worse, many of those previously released could face a return to prison depending on the outcome of ongoing trials or appeals.”
Yesterday’s developments come amid an extremely worrying media freedom situation in the country, one that led IPI SEEMO delegates on a joint press freedom mission to Turkey with the Committee to Protect Journalists from 30 September to 2 October to warn that an erosion of media freedoms threatened the country’s democracy.
In addition to a number of orders banning media from covering certain topics, journalists and media owners in Turkey face “government pressure – both direct and indirect..., a weakened system of checks and balances and a polarised political climate in which toxic, anti-media rhetoric is allowed to flourish”, IPI delegates found.
IPI’s affiliate, the South East Europe Media Organisation, similarly expressed alarm about yesterday’s developments.
“The latest pressure on journalists and media staff from the newspaper Zaman and Samanyolu TV, as well as the detention of journalists, shows an animosity by authorities toward the media,” SEEMO Secretary-General Oliver Vujovic said. “It all looks like political pressure on media.”
IPI’s Turkish National Committee said yesterday that the most recent raids showed a need for Turkey to uphold “the fundamental principles of the rule of law, and the freedom of the press”, adding: “While revealing the problematic structure of Turkey’s democracy, this process also proves that democratisation is not possible as long as violations of freedom of the press continue.”
15 December 2014.
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) was appalled to learn about yesterday’s developments in Istanbul and detention of 31 people, among them high ranking media employees, TV serials producers and directors, and managers of the daily Zaman and the Samanyolu Media Group. They were taken into custody under charges of establishing, heading or being a member of a terrorist organization, as well as fraud and slander.
The operation occurred shortly after last month’s law passed by the Parliament, which enables prosecutors to use the argument of reasonable suspicion when detaining people. The suspects and lawyers have so far been restricted from seeing the content of the investigation file, due to a confidentiality order.
Numerous of people have gathered in front of the Çağlayan Courthouse, showing their support for those taken into custody, and many human rights organisations and initiatives have already expressed their concern.
Pressures on journalists in Turkey reaches drastic levels
9 December 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East and Central Europe, condemns the attack on several journalists who were reporting from the northwestern province of Kocaeli from an environmental meeting.
The journalists were allegedly assaulted by the police, in order to prevent them from photographing and filming. Their cameras were taken by police members, and there are claims that allegedly one police officer attempted to injure Kocaeli newspaper reporter Erhan Altıparmak.
„We are alarmed by all these new cases in Turkey where human rights are seriously disrespected, and media freedom is violated. We insist that Turkish authorities investigate this case of violance against journalists. Pressures that journalists in Turkey face seems to be increasing every day, and that is a matter of great concern to us“ SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said today.
SEEMO alarmed at growing number of threats and attacks towards journalists in Kosovo
9 December 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) was alarmed to learn that Zekirja Shabani, editor of daily Tribuna and chairman of Kosovo Association of Journalists (KAJ) was physically attacked.
Shabani recently announced that he will be suing the newspaper Tribuna for breach of contract and salary debt, after which the owner of the paper, attacked him physically at the workplace and insulted him. The attack was reported to the police.
“SEEMO and its members stand behind Shabani and express their full support for media workers in Kosovo” Secretary General Oliver Vujovic stated. “It is of utter importance that the authorities in Kosovo react immediately to this attack, and punish the perpetrator accordingly. They must set the correct example so that cases like this one do not occur again. Media freedom is fragile, and especially so in Kosovo. Lately there has been a series of threats and attacks that are telling us journalists aren’t safe” he added.
SEEMO concerned over political language used against journalists in Croatia
8 December 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed its concerned over the latest occurrences in Croatia.
Dujomir Marasovic, the MP of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) stated during a Parliament session that once the new government is elected, which he believes he will be a part of, the first thing on the agenda will be to „wipe clean“ the current staff and authorities of Croatian Radio and TV - HRT, the national public broadcaster.
He was immediately criticised by members of other parties and the Parliament President for his outburst of animosity. The Croatian Journalists’ Association called it a classical and primitive political threat, and stated that they will work hard to inform both the Croatian and European public about the hate speech terminology used amongst the country’s politicians.
„SEEMO supports the Croatian Journalists Association, the public broadcaster HRT and all those who could be affected by such foul language and dangerous discourse, coming from a political representative. “ SEEMO Secreaty General Oliver Vujovic has said.
SEEMO shows support for Bosnian journalists working under pressure
5 December 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East and Central Europe, stated its concern with recent media freedom developments in Bosnia.
On 15 November 2014 Bosnian news portal Klix.ba published a conversation made by Zeljka Cvijanovic, the current Prime Minister of Republika Srpska, about allegedly bribing members of the National Assembly. On 1 December the editor in chief and the owner of the portal were called for questioning. The reason was said to be the criminal offense they committed of publishing a secretly recorded phone call. The possible sentence for this crime is up to a year in incarceration.
On 3 December editor Jasmin Hadziahmetovic and owner Dario Simic went from Sarajevo to Banja Luka to attend the questioning. They were pressured to reveal their sources and expose how they acquired the tape in question.
“Freedom to publish information of public interest and free speech, without fear of censorship or pressure are key for the journalistic profession” SEEMO Secretary General, Oliver Vujovic has said.
SEEMO expresses support for free media in Ukraine
4 December 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is concerned after learning the details of recent creation of a government body, whose purpose will be to control media outlets and information in Ukraine.
On 2 December 2014 the Ukrainian Parliament adopted a proposal for the creation of a separate body, named the Ministry of Information Policy. It’s supposed main aim will be to confront propaganda coming from Russian media. The heads of authority chosen for this new institution are said to be close with President Petro Poroshenko.
“SEEMO members were disturbed to hear about the latest developments in Ukraine. This imposes a serious threat for media freedom and freedom of speech in the country” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said.
SEEMO alarmed at recent threats towards media workers in Serbia
2 December 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) was alarmed to learn about the recent developments in Serbia, regarding threats and pressures made towards journalists and their media outlets.
Correspondent of the national public broadcaster RTS from the city of Nis, Dragana Sotirovski, has been the target of threats and hate speech by the management of the Sokobanja hospital since November 2013, due to the series of reports about illegal activities conducted by the hospital's establishment that she has been investigating. Sotirovski was labelled as „persona non grata“ in the hospital premises, and has received threats.
SEEMO was also appalled to hear about the behavior of the president of the Municipality of Grocka towards the informative portal „Nasa Grocka“ and its editor in chief, Zeljko Matorcevic. The president of the Municipality allegedly told Matorcevic that he is prohibited from attending the sessions of the local Parliament, and that he would be fined in case of disobedience.
„Threats, pressure, attacks and censorship cannot be a behavior towards journalists", said Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO secretary general.
Media rights deteriorating throughout South East Europe
30 November 2014
Rights of media workers and journalists have been at an all-time low, while propaganda and tabloidization of the media seem to be spreading more each day, the latest semi-annual OSCE report on media freedom development concludes.
Media safety and the protection of journalists have been seriously deteriorating, and the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) has followed closely all occurrences of media violation. The number of verbal and physical attacks on journalists has been on a rise, and SEEMO is extending its full support to OSCE and other organisations that protect human rights and media freedom.
“The South East Europe region has experienced a growing number of media freedom violations in various countries, which SEEMO has protested against. We call on authorities of these countries to work on existing issues, solve cases and protect journalists and their profession. This is of utmost importance both for human rights, media freedom, as well as democracy” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic stated.
SEEMO deeply concerned regarding media ban in Turkey
27 November 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is concerned to learn about the recent country-wide media ban developments in Turkey. On Wednesday, the Turkish media regulator issued a ban on the coverage of a parliamentary commission probing corruption allegations against four ex-ministers: former Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan, Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdogan Bayraktar, Interior Minister Muammer Guler, and former Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis.
The Supreme Board of Radio and Television in Turkey has forbidden any reports on the progress of the court case to be published until it is finished on December 27th, a move the opposition says is shielding corruption.
Penalties will be imposed on media outlets that disobey this order, and some opposition papers have already stated that they will not respect this restriction. The decision is justified by the statement that by allowing journalists to report on the case, confidentiality and individual rights will be violated.
Harassment of journalist in Romania causes concern
13 November 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) was alarmed to find out that Romanian journalist Stefan Mako experienced alleged harassment by state officers. The journalist was taken into custody after filming Romanian police officers while they were arresting another person. He was told to stop filming, but since he continued to, he was arrested and taken in for questioning by the police.
The journalist was threatened and beaten several times during his detainment, and the video material was erased from his phone before he was released.
“It is very disturbing to hear that a journalist simply doing his job can be treated so harshly and for no reason. I call on Romanian authorities to investigate the case as soon as possible” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovc said about the incident.
SEEMO calls on politician
12 November 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) was concerned to learn that the Croatian Minister of Health Sinisa Varga allegedly made discriminating accusations against some Croatian journalists.
While making a guest appearance on a TV channel N1 show, Minister Varga was asked to comment on claims regarding his conflict of interest, mentioned in several articles and investigative stories.
He not only disregarded the statements, but also added that there are „enough indicators“ to safely say that a group of journalists are motivated to write critically because of bribes they receive.
SEEMO strongly condemns this type of pressure made on the media, and is reminding political representatives and authorities to be cautious in their choice of words. „Statements like these cause harm to the society and the media scene, they endanger journalists, and they put a tremendous amount of self-censorship pressure upon them.“ SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said.
SEEMO concerned over deteriorating press freedom situation in Greece
07 November 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is deeply concerned to hear about the recent negative developments regarding media freedom in Greece. The headquarters of Athens Voice, a weekly, have been the victim of an arson attack on 6 November 2014.
Apparently, the office was broken into, doused with flammable liquids and set on fire. No one was injured in the fire that ocurred in the city center.
Following these events, a Greek anarchist group issued a statemenet in which they took full responsibility for the crime. The group named "Black Sundays-Red Nights. Anarchist Group of Anti-Capitalist Action” stated they caused the fire to point out the long working hours, small wages, self-censorship and overall difficult situation employees of such media outlets are facing.
SEEMO and its members fully support the staff of Athens Voice and all other media that are facing threats from anarchistic or other sources. Security and protection of media freedom must be guaranteed, especially in a country with a long democratic history such as Greece. Greek authorities must set out an example and prevent further human rights violations and threats.
SEEMO calls the authorities in Skopje to drop all charges against the journalist Tomislav Kezarovski
07 November 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East and Central Europe, is expressing its deep concern regarding the case of the Macedonian journalist Tomislav Kezarovski.
Kezarovski was first detained in May 2013, regarding investigative articles he wrote five years earlier for the magazine Reporter 92. Two articles were published in November- December 2008. Being accused of revealing the identity of a protected witness, he was sentenced in November 2013 to 4,5 years in prison. He is currently held under house arrest.
The court ignored the fact that Kezarovski disclosed only the name, but not the surname of the protected witness, with which the exact identity could not be revealed. Additional, the journalist had an obligation to inform the public that the police had a false protected witness in a murder case. The witness admitted that he was blackmailed by the police in order to become a protected witness.
On 24 October 2014 the Appeal Court in Skopje had a session regarding Kezarovski case, but so far did not conclude weather the appeal will be accepted or not so.
SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic stated that the organisation and its members are giving their full support to Kezarovski and other journalists in similar situations all over the region. „The treatment and trial against Tomislav Kezarovski have been a source of deep concerns to us for some time now. It is necessary that journalists and media outlets become safe from these types of pressures and attempts at censorship.
The verdict that Kezarovski is facing is a serious threat to media freedom, free expression and basic human rights. I call on Macedonian authorities and institutions to drop all charges against this journalist, and prove that they are really working on creating a democratic atmosphere for professional, independent and investigative journalism.“ Vujovic added.
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) today expressed alarm at the attempted murder of journalist Milot Hasimja on 27 October 2014 in Kosovo.
VIENNA, 28 October 2014
Local reports said that a man entered the newsroom of the headquarters of private broadcaster Klan Kosova in Pristina and repeatedly stabbed Hasimja in the head and neck as the journalist sat at his desk.
Hasimja, who suffered at least four wounds, was hospitalised and is said to be in stable condition. Other employees reportedly intervened to stop the attack and the perpetrator was apprehended immediately. The suspected motive for the attack was retaliation for a feature that Hasimja made about the attacker that left the man upset.
SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic today expressed SEEMO’s full support for Hasimja and Klan Kosova.
“SEEMO members are appalled after learning about what happened,” Vujovic said. “Attacks such as this are a serious violation of press freedom and cannot be tolerated in the slightest. We are glad to hear that the person responsible was immediately arrested and we expect that he will be prosecuted as soon as possible. In the meantime, we wish Mr. Hasimja a speedy recovery.
“Such attacks violate media freedom rights and represent a major setback for democracy. This is an attempted murder case and I am shocked that it happened. Everything possible must be done to prevent something like this from happening again and both media outlets and society have to take more care to protect the safety of journalists.”
SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East and Central Europe.
SEEMO calls authorities in Skopje to investigate an attack
29 September 2014.
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) was alarmed to learn about last night's attack on the house of journalist Oliver Zhezhov. Zhezhov, who works as news editor for TV Star channel in the region Stip, Republic for Macedonnia / FYROM, reported to the police that someone threw stones at here appartment around 23:00 that evening.
The journalist stated that she would rather not assume any reasons for the attack, but suspects that it is related to his reports.
„I am calling on authorities in Skopje to investigate the attack and find the perpetrators. This was clearly a very negative message to both the journalist and the TV station, and it cultivates fear in the press. Free work of journalists must be accepted, promoted and supported by state authorities, and all forms of attacks on journalists must be investigated " SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic has stated.
SEEMO expresses concern over media freedom developments in Serbia
29 September 2014.
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is concerned over media freedom developments in Serbia
TV channel B 92 announced recently that the political talk show Utisak Nedelje will be postponed until further notice, due to failed negotiations with the show’s host, Olja Beckovic. The clash between the management of the TV station, the author began when Beckovic received a short notice suggestion to move her show from the B92 national frequency to B92 Info, a cable channel covering only 60 percent of the country’s territory.
The host has rejected this offer, calling it a political order, and adding that the show has not been postponed, but actually banned.
Both Beckovic and the editor in chief of B92’s informative program Veran Matic have opposed the transfer, calling it a degradation of the show’s long history and reputation.
SEEMO also condemns hooligan attack on the building of RTV B92. Some 30 hooligans attacked on Sunday, 28 September, the B92 building and the police securing B92, after RTV B92 reported during the day from the Belgrade Pride, Serbia’s LGBT march
Another incident occurred during Serbia’s LGBT Pride march, when a reporter was hit by a stone. Dusan Milenkovic from Blic newspaper was hit on the head by a stone thrown from by a group of hooligans who were protesting the Parade.
SEEMO is deeply concerned at these new developments in Serbia that clearly signalize a deterioration of press freedom rights. “I am quite concerned at these new incidents in Serbia. The atmosphere in which journalists are working seems to be dangerous, both in a verbal and physical way. All pressures on media journalists must be revoked and prevented from happening in the future, for the sake of both human and media rights” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic has stated.
SEEMO concerned over attacks on Serbian portal pescanik.net
29 September 2014.
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), is concerned to learn about the new hacker attacks on the Serbian website pescanik.net.
The attacks are connected to an article which claims that a high level Serbian politician plagiarized his doctoral thesis. This was the second attack on Pescanik web, since the website was previously attacked in June this year regarding the same subject.
The persons responsible for the first attack have not yet been found, even though the case is still being formally investigated.
SEEMO is reminding Serbian authorities that freedom of speech are values that every democratic country must uphold. Journalists and their outlets must be allowed to work freely and without the threat of censorship.
“ I would personally like to express my great concern, and to offer our support to Pescanik and all other websites were attacked in the past months in Serbia. The perpetrators of these attacks must be brought to justice and punished as soon as possible. Such attacks are not only dangerous for journalists and media, but also the society. Critical voices must not be pressured or forcefully censored.” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic stated.
SEEMO expresses continuous concern over media freedom rights in Turkey
23 September 2014.
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), is very concerned at the growing number of both media freedom and human rights violations in Turkey.
On 23 September, journalist Erol Özkoray got a suspended sentence of 11 months and 20 days in prison for using banners, graffitti and slogans made during Gezi protests in his book „Individualization and Democracy: The Gezi Phenomenon“.
Özkoray was accused of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the book about last year's massive anti-government protests. The execution of the sentence has been postponed for five years by the court.
„SEEMO members are appaled at the repetitive practice of Turkish authorities to chastise writers and journalists who's work dissatisfies them“ Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said. „This repressive practice is creating a completely undemocratic atmosphere in Turkey, and I am calling on Turkish officials and international human rights organisations to help put a stop on these violations immediately.“
New threats in Kosovo raise concerns, SEEMO calls for action
19 September 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is once again expressing its deep concerns over this month’s threats journalists in Kosovo have been receiving.
After Visar Duriqi, a Kosovar journalist who was threatened in early September, a new case of verbal threats occurred against a media worker.
His colleague Artan Haraqija, an Indeksonline journalist received a series of death threats after a joint report the two made about radical Muslim groups in Kosovo. After appearing on a KTV show, Haraqija was threatened, which he immediately reported to the police.
SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic expressed his dissatisfaction with the media freedom situation in Kosovo: “We have called on authorities in Kosovo, and now we are asking them once again to protect investigative journalists, and find the perpetrators behind these threats. It is necessary for media workers in Kosovo to act and speak freely, without fearing for their lives on a daily basis”, Vujovic said.
SEEMO calls authorities in Serbia to protect journalists
19 September 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) stated its concern with the number of journalists attacked in Serbia over the last six years, with eighteen incidents happening in 2014 alone.
Since 2008, over 350 media workers have been attacked either verbally and through threats, or through physical attacks.
The Independent Journalist Association of Serbia (NUNS) presented an electronic database containing details of attacks on journalists, in an effort to appeal to the authorities and the public. Over the past two decades, many cases of threats, attacks and even murders of journalists have not been solved in Serbia.
SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic expressed full support for this project. “SEEMO welcomes the engagement of Serbian journalistic institutions in bringing awareness to the public, regarding the issue of attacks and threats. Media in Serbia often work in an atmosphere while fearing retaliation for what they publish. Attacks on journalist's are a sign of unfulfilled democratic development, and authorities must take a more serious approach in resolving these cases. It is of utter importance both for the public and the journalistic profession in Serbia.”
Threatened aftter publishing stories about the head of Moldova's Orthodox Church
17 September 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), condemns threats made against Ziarul de Garda, a Moldovan newspaper.
The paper allegedly received threats after publishing investigative stories about the head of Moldova's Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Vladimir. After publishing the stories on 4 and 11 September, the newspaper was threatened by phone.
SEEMO asks Moldovan authorities to react and investigate the threats Ziarul de Garda received. Newspapers and investigative journalists must have a free, safe environment for work within their own country. SEEMO believes that verbal threats are not the way to express dissatisfaction with media coverage.
SEEMO deeply concerned over privacy rights violations in Turkey
16 September 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East Europe, is expressing its deep concern regarding two new articles on the subject of internet laws, that were adopted on 10 September 2014 in Turkey.
The new measures give Turkish authorities a wide range of powers regarding user's internet activity data, blocking webpages and surveiling internet users. This legislative bill is provoding the government-appointed regulatory body TIB with even more power.
The new legislature comes after several existing violations of user privacy in Turkey, as well as blocking YouTube, Twitter and other popular platforms.
Prosecutors and courts in Turkey have begun charging journalists with „tresspassing on private property“ and „property damage“, in addition to previous charges of insult, breach of confidentiality and propaganda against the government.
„The new measures are a fundamental threat to Internet users in Turkey, but also journalists and all others“ SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said. „Freedom of expression and access to information are elementary human rights that must be respected by all, and especially by authorities. I urge Turkish institutions to revoke this bill“ he added.
SEEMO worried about indictment against Slovenian journalist
15 September 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East Europe is appalled by the possible three-year jail sentence Slovenian investigative reporter Anuska Delic is facing.
Delic, who is a journalist for the daily newspaper Delo, is accused of publishing classified state information which connects a Slovenian opposition party and a neo-Nazi group.
The journalist was charged in April 2013, but only learned the details of her indictment last week, which state that she must stand trial for disseminating classified information.
SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujović said:” Both Slovenia and the EU are sending the wrong message to other countries with a case like this. Legal actins taken against Anuska Delic are reprehensible, and I call Slovenian authorities to drop these charges immediately. EU member countries must do their best to set positive examples, instead of interfering with the work of reporters.”
SEEMO concerned with the situation in RTK
12 September 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), is concerned with the current situation in Kosovo’s public broadcaster, RTK.
Recurring conflicts between the Management and the independent Trade Union of RTK have allegedly been caused by financial deterioration, organizational and program issues, and editorial censorship of journalists.
Trade Union members claim that besides constant pressure on professional journalists, another big problem remains the uncontrolled employment, with no employment procedures or financial coverage.
“SEEMO calls the on Management of RTK to execute their activities transparently, and give explanations for previous decisions, questioned by the Trade Union” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic stated. “The lack of transparency inside a public broadcaster means that no transparency can be expected on the outside. It is of the utmost importance that RTK protects its journalists and provides them with a safe working atmosphere” he added.
SEEMO supports further investigation of attack
10 September 2014
The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), is expressing its full support for the investigation of attacks on journalists in Serbia.
Milos Djorelijevski, a BETA news agency journalist, was physically attacked on 29 July 2009, during protests in Belgrade, Serbia. The attack occured during clashes between protesters and the police, despite the fact that Djorelijevski showed his journalistic accreditation.
Commenting on the matter, SEEMO Secretary General, Oliver Vujovic said „There seems to be no progress in the investigation, which is a great concern to us. The Journalists' Association of Serbia has called out authorities to find the perpetrators of this attack, and we express our full suppport. Cases like these must be solved, since such violations make press work extremely dangerous. A safe, open media environment is crucial in a democratic society, and we urge Serbian authorities to react immediately“ he added.
SEEMO supports defamation revoking from Croatian Penal Code
8 September 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), is concerned regarding the recent Zagreb Municipal Civil Court ruling, ordering the commercial broadcaster RTL to pay 50,000 HRK to the mayor of Zagreb, Milan Bandic, as compensation.
“RTL Daily” aired an interview with PM Zoran Mihajlovic on 20 May 2013, in which he makes remarks about the mayor. Bandic then pressed charges against RTL for false allegations, saying they violated his reputation, dignity and honor.
SEEMO and its members fully support the requests of the Croatian Journalist Association (HND), demanding that the provision on punishable defamation should be withdrawn from the Penal Code.
Media legislation should not be used as a disciplinary tool for censoring and silencing journalists and media outlets. Statements made by public officials should be published freely, instead of used as a weapon in the courtroom. Croatia as the newest EU member must try to adhere to democratic principles and show greater support for media freedom.
SEEMO alarmed at threats made towards a reporter in Kosovo
1 September 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East Europe, is concerned to learn about the threats made to Visar Duriqi, a Kosovo journalist.
Duriqi covers in his stories religious extremism, referring to how Muslims are sent from Kosovo to Syria. This caused an outrage in the radical Muslim community, and Duriqi was accused of apostasy by the Muslim Youth Forum in August 2014.
The communiqué this network posted caused a wave of hate speech and death threats towards the journalist. According to radical Muslims, apostasy is punishable by death.
SEEMO urges authorities in Pristina to find the persons responsible for the threats as soon as possible, and provide Duriqi with police protection. „These threats should not be taken lightly, since they are coming in such a large number and from different sources. Kosovo must create a healthier environment for free speech and secure the protection of journalists.“ SEEMO
Secretary General Oliver Vujovic stated.
SEEMO condemns attack on Croatian journalist
13 August 2014.
The Vienna-based South East Europe Organisation (SEEMO), condemns the attack on Croatian journalist Domagoj Magretic in Zagreb.
The journalist was left with injuries after he was attacked by an unknown man around in the night.
The police are searching for the perpetrator, while Magretic stated that because of his articles, he had received threats several times during the last year.
“I condemn the attack on Magretic and I hope the Croatian police will find the perpetrators and bring them to justice, “ SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujović said. “An incident of this kind must be resolved as soon as possible, for the sake of human rights and media freedom in Croatia” he added.
SEEMO calls Montenegrin authorities to react
13 August 2014.
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), is urging the authorities in Montenegro to react immediately to threats the journalist Jelena Jovanovic has been receiving from an anonymous profile page on Facebook.
The journalist of daily Vijesti has been receiving threats in her inbox since 9 August this year from an unknown person.
Jovanovic and her colleagues believe the threats began because of an article she recently wrote regarding a protected witness testimony, in the murder case of the editor-in-chief of daily Dan Dusko Jovanovic who was killed in 2004.
The police in Danilovgrad and Podgorica were notified of the threats, but have said that Facebook is an American company and in order to obtain the IP address of the attacker, they must contact Interpol. The messages also contained references to the protected witness, so it is possible that another person is in danger.
Considering previous cases, SEEMO and its members are supporting the daily Vijesti and insist on the immediate investigation of this case.
There have been numerous physical and verbal attacks, as well as threats and blackmail of journalists in Montenegro, and this daily paper has been a target of attacks for years.
”I hope that the country’s authorities will bring the attacker to justice,” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said. “Journalists have a right to work without fear of attack or pressure or threats of any kind”.
SEEMO condemns Turkish PM Tayyip Erdoğan for insults against journalist
10 August 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), condemns the language Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan used when referring to journalist Amberin Zaman, Economist Turkey Correspondent and working for Turkish daily Taraf. All happened after a television debate whrere Zaman asked a question to the opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
The question caused a hateful backlash from Erdoğan, who mentioned the journalist in an election rally in the city of Malatya. The Prime Minister said: "A militant in the guise of a journalist, a shameless woman. Know your place!” he continued, "they gave you a pen and you are writing a column in a newspaper, and you insult a society that is 99 percent Muslim".
SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic stated his concern over such incidents in Turkey that put the professional work of journalists in danger, adding that he is, along with Zaman, waiting for the apology of the prime minister.
„Amerin Zaman had been fired from Haberturk daily newspaper for her critical articles regarding the government last year, and it is unacceptable that she is now facing new threats due to her work“ Vujovic said.
„I am urging authorities in Turkey, and the Prime Minister to stop with such undemocratic practices, as well as hate speech directed towards women. All journalists are equal and they have the right to be treated without discrimination, especially when it is coming from such a high position. This is a bad example for the general public“ he added.
SEEMO calls for investigation in the attack case on an editor-in-chief
5 August 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), once again is asking for an professional investigation by the authorities over the physical attack on Davor Pasalic, an editor of the Serbian news agency Fonet.
A month earlier Pasalic was attacked and brutally beaten near his home in Belgrade by three young men, who tried first to extort money from him, but then insulted him on the basis of his nationality. It was strange that the group had the information that he is not a Serb, as most people in Belgrade did not know this.
After the beating, Pasalic tried to walk to his home a few hundred meters away, but before entering his building, but was attacked again.
He was later diagnosed with serious head injuries, bruises and cuts on his body, as well as two broken teeth. Pasalic stated that he is unaware of any reasons why such an attack would happen, nor had received any threats prior to the beating that happened on 3 July 2014.
SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic is calling on Serbian police authorities to investigate this case and find the attackers immediately. An immediate reaction is necessary, so that other possible attacks on media freedom can be prevented.“
SEEMO concerned about attack on Serbian journalist
21 July 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East Europe, is concerned to hear about the physical attack Zivko Perisic, a Beta News Agency journalist.
The motive behind this attack was an article Perisic wrote in January this year, about a fellow citizen who was stealing electricity. The news was followed by a quote from a local businessperson who confirmed that the person was being prosecuted for this crime.
The journalist was threatened, insulted , and attacked physically in the town of Gornji Milanovac,.
Perišić immediately reported the attack to the police, the judiciary in Gornji Milanovac, and notified journalist associations.
SEEMO is alarmed at the number of cases and different types of pressure Serbian journalists have been under for the last several months on local level, and calls on authorities to react and punish the perpetrator according to law. This would be a step forward in democratizing the society and protecting media freedom.
SEEMO concerned regarding the ruling in B92 defamation case
17 July 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East Europe, is concerned to hear about the physical attack Zivko Perisic, a Beta News Agency journalist.
The Belgrade high court upheld this in connection to the alleged mismanagement of public funds which included Pavlovic, and which B92 previously investigated and reported about.
Parts of information and evidence B92 included in their story came from an official police memo.
“This decision will not only have a negative effect on B92, but also deprive other media outlets from reporting freely. Restricting the possibility of reporting about matters of public interest is not only dangerous for media freedom and investigative journalists, but for the general public as well” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic stated.
An appeal can be passed to the Serbian Constitutional Court concerning this ruling.
SEEMO welcomes ECHR decision
10 July 2014
The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), welcomes the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over the imprisonment of two Turkish journalists, Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener, by holding them in pre-trial detention for over a year.
Turkey has been sentenced to pay a fine of € 10,000 to Şık and € 20,000 to Şener. The ECHR found that the authorities violated Article 5-3 of the European Convention of Human Rights on the ‘length and reasonableness of pre-trial,’ Article 5-4 on ‘procedural guarantees of review,’ and Article 10 on ‘freedom of expression.’
SEEMO condemns the arrest of Albanian journalist in Skopje
07 July 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), condemns the arrest of Besim Ibrahimi, a journalist of the daily paper Lajm.
Ibrahimi was arrested on 5 July 2014 while covering a public event in Skopje, on suspicion that he was taking part in the violent protests. He has been accused of interfering with police officers while they were performing their duty, which he categorically denies.
Ibrahimi claims that he was arrested and beaten with a baton by a police officer, who also offended him on the basis of his nationality. He was released from detention 24 hours later, after strong objections from local and international media and human rights organisations.
SEEMO is calling authorities in Macedonia to investigate this case and stop this practices towards journalists and media workers.
„Journalists must be allowed to do their job professionally and without interference. Media plays an important role in the democratic process, and is necessary for a free society.“, SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic stated.
SEEMO urges Turkish authorities to provide journalists with normal working conditions
7 July 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), is alarmed by the behavior of autoritites in the Izmir province in Turkey, where a letter was sent to Ege'nin Sesi newspaper, requesting the removal of an article..
SEEMO fully supports the decision of the paper and paper’s editor-in chief not to remove the article, and consider this letter an attempt at diminishing media freedom.
The article described the events during a commemoration march, when an disagreement began between the marchers and the police. The police officer used foul language, which was an allegation in the article. There was no taped recording of the event.
The letter which was signed by the Police Commissioner 4 July denies these allegations, and demands for the article to be removed.
Journalists of this newspaper did not remove the article, and published the letter as well, but deem this attempt as an attack to freedom of speech and journalistic rights.
SEEMO concerned with lack of media freedom in Romania
14 June 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East Europe is worried by different reports on the violation of media freedom and freedom of speech in Romania in the past several months.
„It has been brought to our attention that journalists and other media workers in Romania have been facing various types of pressure in their work. Journalists are subjects to threats, attacks and self-censorship, which is leading to a deterioration of media freedom in this country“ said SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic.
Dan Constantin, one of the editors-in-chief of Jurnalul National daily newspaper was assaulted and threatened on 14 June. The motivation behind this attack was the guest appearance of Constantin in a TV talk-show on Antena 3 TV channel, a station openly critical of Romanian President Traian Băsescu.
The channel Antena3 was also put under pressure by some politicians after airing a short film about a relative of the President, who allegedly received money, in order to intervene at judiciary level.
SEEMO supports the protest of Greek journalists
12 June 2014
The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), is expressing its unbiased support to the Greek journalists and media workers who held a protest on 11 June, one year since the public broadcaster ERT had been shut down as an austerity measure.
In the meantime, there have been no apparent efforts by the government to restore an independent public broadcaster. The current broadcaster NERIT is run by the Ministry of Finances and according to observers has no editorial independence. The former ERT staff and their unions have started broadcasting on ERT open, a channel with diverse public service in all Greek regions. However, this is not a sufficient and organized replacement.
SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujović stated: „ Public service values and journalistic rights are facing serious pressure in Greece. I ask the authorities to support the work of a professional public service in Greece".
Hackers - Serbia
Vienna, 10 June 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) called on the Serbian police to investigate all cases of hacker-attacks in Serbia in the past weeks. Numerous information that blogs in Serbia have suffered DDoS and other hacker-attacks, are alarming. "We welcome the investigations started by Serbian police, but we are asking the state authorities and police to inform the public in detail about this hacker attacks", Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General said. "It is interesting, that hackers attacked those web and blogs that are critical about the government or published investigations like the Webpage of Pescanik", Vujovic added. Pescanik.net published claims by assistant professor at the University of Nottingham Ugljesa Grusic, associate professor at the University of East London Branislav Radeljic and PhD candidate at the London School of Economics and Political Science Slobodan Tomic, that the doctorate dissertation of the Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic is alleged plagiarism. "This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever read," Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said after Pescanik.net published the article. Stefanovic has denied any wrongdoing in his PhD, received last year from a private University in Belgrade.
In a public letter a group of bloggers and the BlogOpen group in Serbia wrote: "We need your support, solidarity, and help to spread the word about endangered civil rights and free speech in Serbia. For the past few months the Serbian Internet -- blogs, media and social networks -- has suffered under apparent censorship, especially when it comes to material that is of great public interest". "We fear that these are abridgements of right to free expression. As a result, we are experiencing the "chilling effect" and a palpable sense of self-censorship", the group added.
Serbia - online freedom
Vienna, 10 June 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) called on the Serbian authorities to respect freedom of information, freedom of internet and press freedom. According to information before SEEMO, journalists Violeta Jovanovic and Dragan Gula Nikolic, both from Mladenovac, a town close to Belgrade, were investigated by the Serbian police following critical comments published on Facebook. Both comments were critical about the handling of the recent floods in Serbia by the authorities. As SEEMO was informed, Nikolic was detained by the Serbian police following a complaint filed by Milorad Cvetnovic, member of the parliament, who was accusing the journalist of “causing damages to the dignity of a high-level representative at the ruling party". The ruling party in Serbia is Srpska napredna stranka (SNS - Serbian Progressive Party) of the Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic. In the past weeks there were several cases of police investigations on people using internet in Serbia. End of May the Serbian police have arrested three internet-users for spreading false information. This three internet-users posted information on personal Facebook pages about the number of persons killed in the floods that hit Serbia in May and were imprisoned for nine days. Around 20 people have been taken in the police for an interview for allegedly "spreading panic" on Twitter and Facebook, according to the Serbian BlogOpen group.
SEEMO criticises Serbia
7 June 2014.
Following claims on numerous incidents of media censorship / self-censorship in Serbia, the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), expresses its concern over the pressures and threats media workers are received in Serbia.
Over 30 people have been detained on the grounds of false news and panic dissemination, while websites and online content were being blocked.
SEEMO notes that this is only part of the pressure that journalists in Serbia face.
Nihat Behram- Turkey
Vienna, 5 June 2014
As the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) was informed, Turkish journalist Nihat Behram was convicted in the insult trial for describing in his column in Yurt newspaper a high level police officer, as “a torturer and a rapist”. The court sentenced Behram to a fine of 1,740 TL
New Cases in Turkey
Vienna, 5 June 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is worried about the news, that a Turkish prosecutor is seeking a prison sentence for Taraf newspaper journalist Mehmet Baransu and the newspaper editor Murat Şevki Çoban. The prosecutor is asking for 26 and 52 years in jail for the journalists for publishing a document about a meeting of the National Security Council in 2004. Mehmet Baransu published this document in November 2013
Blic - Serbia
Vienna, 5 June 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) condemns statements by the Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic connected to the daily newspaper Blic. After Blic published a newspaper investigation about his advisor, Nikolic asked " Are the editors aware that they are trying to reduce my reputation in the eyes of the citizens of Serbia, the reputation of the institution of the President?" For SEEMO this is a clear pressure by the Serbian President on the editorial policy of the daily Blic.
Vienna, 5 June 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation SEEMO welcomes the decision by the Turkish Telecommunications Directorate to unblock access to YouTube. After 67 days, internet users in Turkey have again from 3 June a free access to YouTube. The decision entered into force after the Constitutional Court on 29 May ruled that the ban violated the rights of users and freedom of speech.
Vienna 4 June 2014
The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), calls on the police and other authorities in Belgrade, Serbia, to investigate the alleged attack by Nebojsa Covic, the former politician and today President of the basketball club Crvena Zvezda, on journalist and TV presenter Dejan Andjus from TV Kopernikus.
As the Journalist Association of Serbia (Udruzenje novinara Srbije - UNS), informed SEEMO, Andjus was alleged attacked after his TV show in front of the TV headquarter. According to Andjus, Covic was not happy with the report made by the journalist, including the fact that he mentioned his son in the report. Andjus informed the police about this case.
Vienna 4 June 2014
The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), is alarmed at the activities of the Turkish police against CNN reporter Ivan Watson. Istanbul police interrupted on Saturday 31 May, a live CNN International broadcast.
Watson was reporting on Saturday live on air from Istanbul, Turkey, covering the anniversary of mass anti-government demonstrations that took place in Istanbul's Taksim Square, when he was detained and kicked by police there who demanded to see his passport and press card. After being detained for 30 minutes, Watson and his TV crew was released and the officer who kicked him apologized.
SEEMO is worried in particular by the fact, that the Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, called CNN reporter "agent" for his coverage of protests. "The media from abroad that came to Istanbul and made exaggerated, provocative calls were licking their paws. One of them was that CNN flunky," Erdogan told members of his AK party in parliament in a speech aired live. Erdogan has repeatedly in the past accused the foreign media of having a hand in the protests
More also on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vS0-WLxc52o
Mayor of the City of Split - news
Vienna 27 May 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is alarmed about the fact that the mayor of the City of Split, Ivo Baldasar, and his team, decided not to inform more regularly the journalist Dragan Miljus, working for the web-portal Index.hr, about the activities of the City administration of Split. Miljus reported in the past critical about activities of the mayor and city administration.
Miljus was informed by an official letter from the City about this decision.
"This is a step against freedom of information. A public institution, like the administration of a city, has to be open to all media. This mayor of Split has to accept also critical voices by Miljus", Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General said. "The right of journalists to report from public institutions is also regulated by the law in Croatia", Vujovic added.
Vienna, 24 May 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation is supporting the Serbian Media Coalition that sent a request on 30 April to the Serbian Ministry of Culture and Information and the Ministry of State Administration and Local Self-Government, demanding that they take all necessary steps to end the abuse of public funds that are intended for the media at the local level.
The Media Coalition consists of the following journalistic and media associations in Serbia: Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM), the Independent Journalists' Association of Serbia (NUNS), the Journalists' Association of Serbia (UNS) and Local Press The request delivered by the Media Coalition points out:
1. That numerous local self-governments view informing the public at the local level as no more than an extension of their PR departments and routinely allocate their money only to those media outlets that are willing to report positively about their work, completely disregarding the interest of the public and the needs of the local community for unbiased, timely and complete information in the context of realization of the public interest;
2. That many local self-governments have been abusing public procurement procedures in order to give money to “appropriate” media outlets, as was recently evident, for example, in Nis, Nova Varos and Pozarevac;
3. That some of the EU reports have emphasized that the inadequate system of budget-based financing does not allow equal treatment of all media outlets on the market and that it enables the so-called “soft censorship”, which prevents the development of free and independent media and hinders the fundamental right of the citizens to freedom of expression, one of whose components is the right to information;
4. That the Media Strategy clearly and unambiguously stipulates that the public interest in the field of public information has to be realized by co-financing of projects, by using a single methodology, and taking into account the regulations on the control of state assistance, regardless of whether the money is allocated by the Republic, Autonomous Provinces or units of local self-government (City or Municipality);
5. That the interest of the public in the media scene, in accordance with the Media Strategy implies, among other things, the production and publication of “general informative and specialized media content of significance for everyday life and work of citizens in local and regional communities”; that the criteria for selection of projects are based on quality of the content offered by the specific media outlet; and that the projects are selected by an independent committee comprised of competent representatives of the public, professional associations and sectors that is not financed by the budget.
The Media Coalition expects that the new government will systematically and completely deal with this phenomenon and appeals that media laws be adopted as soon as possible.
SEEMO hopes that the Serbian authorities will seriously consider this letter.
Behaviour of the Police
Vienna, 22 May 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) condemns the behaviour of the police officers in Republic of Macedonia- FYROM. Journalists working for Nova, Free Europe and Fokus magazine, Saska Cvetkovska, Marija Mitevska and Meri Jordanovska were reporting from a protest in Gorce Petrov, one of the municipalities of Skopje, when the local police made pressure on the journalists to delete the photo and video materials from the protest.
"It is alarming, that we have still police officers who believe that they can stop journalists in doing the job", Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General said. "Protests and demonstrations are always events of public interest and the public has a right to know what is happening", Vujovic added.
News from Turkey
Vienna, 22 May 2014 .
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is worried about the developments in Turkey.
Hasnain Kazim, an Istanbul-based correspondent for Germany’s Der Spiegelmagazine, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) yesterday in an email that he felt forced to leave Turkey for his own safety after he received thousands of threats for an article he wrote on the disaster, in which 301 miners died.
Kazim, who told AFP he was “just spending a few days somewhere else to be on the safe side”, said that “hundreds” of the messages via Twitter and Facebook threatened him with death. The threats came after he quoted a miner from Soma who said he wanted to tell Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to “Go to hell”.
The journalist told AFP that “trolls” he believed were linked to Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) “did not see or did not want to see that this was a quote but considered me and Der Spiegel to have said that”.
BBC Turkish reporter Rengin Arslan was similarly threatened in social media after Erdogan on Tuesday accused her of staging a video in which relatives of disaster victims criticised the prime minister, the International Business Times reported. Two veiled women in a Soma cemetery told Arslan in a 59-second clip that they regretted voting for Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and that local residents voted for the party “out of fear” and had been bribed to do so.
Erdogan, without mentioning BBC Turkish by name, told an AKP meeting that the women were actors that Arslan hired. The network, however, rejected that criticism as “unfounded” and stood by the journalist’s report.
The International Press Institute (IPI) and its affiliate, the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), said they were disturbed by the rhetoric and by the number and degree of threats against journalists.
"Tensions are already running high following the worst mining disaster in Turkish history,” IPI Senior Press Freedom Adviser Steven M. Ellis said. “In this atmosphere, authorities have a special responsibility to avoid dangerous comments that could lead supporters to believe that harassment or intimidation of journalists is in any way justified. We urge the prime minister to show his commitment to press freedom by refraining from such rhetoric and by stating clearly that threats of violence against journalists will not be tolerated.”
Vienna, 22 May 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) criticizes threatening messages sent out over Facebook against Zeljko Tvrdisic, Belgrade news agency Tanjug correspondent and editor-in-chief of Radio Kontact Plus from Mitrovica, Kosovo.
The journalist was warned not to talk in negative terms about people who are on one of the election lists participating in Kosovo elections.
SEEMO calls all authorities to investigate the case and to determine the identity of the person or persons responsible for the threats.
Vienna 20 May 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is alarmed about the fact that on 6 May 2014 the car owned by Dragana Zecevic, a journalist working for the Belgrade daily Vecernje novosti, was damaged. The car was parked in the garden of her family house in the Serbian town Kursumlija. Till today the police did not arrested any person connected to this incident.
According to the Udruzenje novinara Srbije (Association of Journalists of Serbia) this is not the first threat against journalists in Kursumlija, and in all this cases till today the police did not arrested any person.
Vienna, 18 May 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is alarmed about the news, that Sedat Kapanoğlu, founder of online portal Ekşi Sözlük, received a suspended sentence of 10 months in prison. Özgür Kuru was sentence to 7 months and 15 days suspended sentence. The charges in both cases are connected to the year 2011, when the web, according to the state prosecutor, published insults to the Prophet Muhammad, what is decsribed in the law as “insulting the religious values shared by a group of society.” Additional 38 members of the website community were detained by the police and charged with insulting religion on the thread, however the court decided to suspend the cases, however suspects would be retried if they commit the same crime within three years
Vienna, 13 May 2014
Today seven imprisoned journalists in Turkey became free: Ramazan Pekgöz, Nurettin Fırat, Turabi Kişin, Yüksel Genç, Davut Uçar, Ertuş Bozkurt and Mikail Barut.
News from Turkey
Vienna, 8 May 2014
Journalists Füsün Erdoğan, Bayram Namaz and Arif Çelebi, were today among a group released from a prison near Istanbul. The journalists were arrested on 10 September 2006 and accused of belonging to the Marxist Leninist Communist Party, which is considered by officials in Turkey a terrorist organization. In November 2013, Erdoğan was sentenced to life in prison. The South East Europe Media Organisation has today welcomed the release of this group of journalists.
Bekir Coşkun is Convicted
Vienna, 2 May 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is worried about the news received from BIA-net that the Turkish journalist Bekir Coşkun is convicted to and year, two months and 17 days of prison for "insulting parliament members" in his column "Painted Stars" in Cumhuriyet daily. As BIA-net reports, If Coşkun is to commit the same “crime” in five years, the execution process of the sentence will begin, as issued by the court.
12 Journalists Injured
Vienna, 2 May 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is worried about the numbers of injured journalist during the 1 May demonstration in Istanbul. According to different soruces, 12 journalists were already injured because of tear gas and plastic bullets used by police. The Journalists' Society of Turkey (TGC) condemned police in a statement, saying that police were attacking some members of the press on purpose and preventing them from doing their work
Vienna, 23 April 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) supports Udruzenje novinara Srbije (Journalists’ Association of Serbia) that called on the authorities to reveal secret documents about the NATO bombing of the public broadcaster RTS on 23 April 1999, when 16 RTS employees were killed.
Slavko Curuvija - 15 years
Vienna 11 April 2014
On 11 April 1999 Slavko Curuvija, journalist, publisher and owner of the daily newspaper Dnevni telegraf was killed in the centre of Belgrade.
On 14 January 2014 Serbian police arrested two suspects in Curuvija's murder case, both formerly employed by the State Security. However, still no one has been convicted in this case.
Vienna, 11 April 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), today announced its participation in “Safety Net for European Journalists”, a project creating “A Transnational Support Network for Media Freedom in Italy and Southeast Europe”.
SEEMO’s partners on the project are the Rovereto, Italy-based Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso (OBC), part of the Fondazione Opera Campana dei Caduti; the Rome-based Ossigeno per L’Informazione; and Dr. Eugenia Siapera of Dublin City University.
As part of the project – which is financed by a grant from the European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology – SEEMO on Feb. 1 began monitoring and documenting in detail press freedom violations in Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, the Republic of Macedonia – Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey. Ossigeno on Feb. 1 began similar efforts in Italy.
In addition to a special annual report, SEEMO plans to publish a practical manual advising journalists how to respond to threats and press freedom violations. SEEMO also will organise a public presentation of the initial results of its monitoring during the South East Europe Media Forum, currently slated to take place in Skopje in October, and, starting at the end of April, plans to present on its website regular updates on project-related developments.
“OBC and its partners work together to establish a truly transnational public sphere, starting from the grass-roots and involving European citizens to discuss issues that are fundamental for democracy in our continent, like media freedom,” Luisa Chiodi, OBC’s scientific director, said. “With an innovative approach, we want to overcome the EU democratic deficit, strengthen the European political project and contribute to a citizens’ Europe.”
SEEMO and Ossigeno representatives stressed the importance of the project.
“In the first 37 days of 2014 Ossigeno recorded in Italy 73 intimidations of journalists, cameramen, bloggers and writers,” Ossigeno representative Rossella Ricchiuti said. “The data shows a 100 percent increase compared to 2012 and 2013, during which an average of one intimidation a day was recorded. With the latest episodes, the count of journalists who are victims of intimidations, threats and/or abuses since 2006 and held by Ossigeno has exceeded 1700.
“The data comes from the daily monitoring carried out by [OBC] through a systematic consultation of media sources and the collection, verification and classification of inputs coming from the representative organisations of journalists, and from a rising number of reports coming directly from the interested journalists. Intimidations include threats, damages, public insults, slurs, frequent abuse of the right to file lawsuits for defamation, the use of lawsuits and claims for damages without having asked for the publication of corrections or clarifications according to the law.”
SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic labelled the state of press freedom in some of the countries covered by the project “alarming”, noting the approximately 44 journalists who remain imprisoned in Turkey and violations of the freedom expression, such as bans on websites or online content.
“In most of the countries covered by this project, we constantly have threats or attacks on journalists and we need to see legal changes,” Vujovic said. “In Montenegro and Serbia we have unsolved cases of attacks on journalists and many details connected to the killing of three journalists in Serbia and one in Montenegro still are not clear.
“There have been positive movements in Serbia, thanks to the work of a commission investigating the cases of murdered journalists, led by long-time journalist Veran Matic, but we still lack many answers. For example, this week marked 20 years since Dada Vujasinovic was killed in Serbia, but as of today no one has been arrested in connection with the case.”
Vujovic also cited a number of other recent press freedom violations in Southeast Europe, pointing out that Croatia’s criminal code still contains a provision against humiliation. The Croatian Journalist Association and SEEMO are urging the country’s Parliament to remove the provision.
On April 6, Vujovic noted, Greek police arrested Despina Kontaraki, a journalist with Eleftheros Typos, one of the country’s leading dailies in the country, and detained her for several hours after she was accused of criminal libel. The accusation was levelled against Kontaraki, publisher Aleksis Skanavis and journalist Giorgos Kouvaras after Eleftheros Typos published an article in which a politician was accused of supporting members of the far right party Golden Dawn.
“This case shows the power of a politician in Greece to silence journalists,” Vujovic commented.
In the Republic of Macedonia – FYROM, he continued, the state of media freedom has continued to worsen. In addition to constant pressure on the media by politicians and businesspersons, Vujovic said, state advertising expenditures remain extremely problematic, with many observers claiming that spending is directed only toward pro-government media outlets.
Vujovic said that SEEMO was also worried about threats against journalists and media companies and “clear press freedom violations” in Bulgaria and Romania.
Last week, the private car of Bulgarian journalist Genka Shikerova, host of the morning show on bTV, was set on fire in Sofia. The incident marked the second time that Shikerova’s car was set aflame, the first having come in last September. Vujovic said SEEMO was alarmed by the case and he urged authorities to solve it as soon as possible. He also labelled unacceptable other attacks on journalists, including a reported attack by Levski football fans on April 6.
In Romania, Vujovic recounted, a Romanian member of the European Parliament verbally attacked news channel Antena 3 during a live talk show, stating that he would shut the channel down. At the same time, the president of Romania has refused to enact adjustments made by members of parliament to the new Romanian Penal Code, which abrogate Article 276. The article makes it impossible for journalists to reveal to the public key information regarding judges’ decisions.
SEEMO called on EU institutions in Brussels to monitor more closely media developments and threats against journalists and media companies in EU member states, including Greece, Bulgaria and Romania.
“The project ‘Safety Net for European Journalists. A Transnational Support Network for Media Freedom in Italy and Southeast Europe’ is an important step for SEEMO not only to better cover press freedom violations in the countries it covers, but also to better inform the public about the strong level of self-censorship present in all of the countries covered by this project”, Vujovic said.
More Professional in Reporting
Vienna, 10 April 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) calls media in Serbia to be more professional in reporting. Media should not publish unverified and sensationalistic information.
Some media in Serbia are participating in campaigns or as an instrument of political propaganda, instead of respecting basic rules of the journalist profession. It is not acceptable that journalists, who are well-known for their professionalism and journalistic ethics, have been labelled in some media as "foreign spies", "enemies of the state", "Enemies of Serbs" etc.
"It is a strange practice in Serbia, but also some other countries in the SEEMO region, that media are attacking their own colleagues, instead of improving the professionalism, showing solidarity with other journalists and support journalists working in other media", Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General said.
Article 148 and Slavica Lukic
Vienna, 9 April 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) demands from the Croatian authorities to remove "humiliation" from the Criminal Code.
According to Article 148 of the Criminal Code, introduced 2013, the court may sentence a journalist if the information published is not considered as of public interest.
Slavica Lukic is the first journalist prosecuted under this article of the Criminal Code. Convinced of the public importance of the news, she reported that a company, despite the substantial public funding received, had economic problems. The company stated it felt "humiliated" and condemned the journalist. The judge sentenced her to a fine.
Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General see in this case "a step to silence journalists". According to Vujovic, this law can stop independent, critical and investigative journalism in Croatia. "The law might limit freedom of information in Croatia and should be abolished", Vujovic added.
News from Slovenia
Vienna, 8 April 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) informs that the former Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa has lost a lawsuit against Finnish journalist Magnus Berglund and the broadcaster YLE. The Ljubljana District Court threw out his claim and ordered Jansa to pay the court costs. The ruling is not final. Jansa championed Slovenia's drive to secede from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1991 and was Slovenian prime minister from 2004 to 2008 and again for a year until March 2013. In June 2013 Jansa was sentenced to two Years in prison. Jansa was sentenced connected to the Patria case. Jansa had denied taking money in the planned purchase of 135 armored vehicles from Finnish defense group Patria while he was prime minister. The deal was canceled.
Case Dada Vujasinovic - 20 Years
Vienna, 8 April 2014
Serbian journalist Radislava Dada Vujasinovic, freelancer and contributor to the Belgrade magazine Duga, was murdered 20 years ago, on 8 April 1994. Till today no one was arrested.
She was found dead in her apartment in Belgrade. The police ruled it in 1994 a suicide, but most evidence disputes this. From January 2009 this case is regarded as murder case.
When Dada Vujasinović’s family, after the end of the Milosevic-regime in 2000, insisted on carrying out a new investigation, the police first stated that it lost evidence. Then, an expert had determined that the police hadn’t done their job properly.
Dada Vujasinovic covered as reporter the early stages of conflicts and war n former Yugoslavia, as also criminal activity in Serbia. In the first years of the war in former Yugoslavia, she visited frequently front lines, but also the city of Sarajevo while it was under siege.
SEEMO urges the Serbian authorities to bring to justice the killers of Dada Vujasinovic.
News from Greece
Vienna, 7 April 2014
Yesterday, on 6 April Greek police arrested Despina Kontaraki, a journalist with Eleftheros Typos, one of the country’s leading dailies in the country, and detained her for several hours after she was accused of criminal libel. The accusation was levelled against Kontaraki, publisher Aleksis Skanavis and journalist Giorgos Kouvaras after Eleftheros Typos published an article in which a politician was accused of supporting members of the far right party Golden Dawn. SEEMO is alarmed about this steps by the Greek police and urges the authorities in Athens to guarantees free work for journalists.
Attack in Bulgaria
Vienna, 6 April 2014
SEEMO urges the authorities in Sofia to protect better journalists, after drunken football fans attacked and beat Yavor Roussev, journalist from bgsport.bg
New case in Bulgaria
Vienna, 2 April 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisations condemns the latest attack on a journalist in Bulgaria. According to information before SEEMO, the car of Genka Shikerova, journalist from Bulgaria's TV channel bTV , was set on fire last night. The car completely burned down. This is the second attack on Shikerova's car, it was previously set on fire in September 2013. Till today the police did not arrested any perpetrator.
Vienna, 28 March 2014
Bulgarian journalist Vladimir Zarkov working for 7 Dni Sport was attacked on 27 March in the evening by an unknown man. The man allegedly followed the journalist and attacked him spraying a substance in his face. All happened, when Zarkov was leaving from his work. Zarkov was taken to a hospital. Zarkov received threats connected to his work in the past.
News from Turkey
Vienna, 27 March 2014
Journalists Hüseyin Deniz, Kenan Kırkaya, Mazlum Özdemir, Mehmet Emin Yıldırım, Nevin Erdemir and Semiha Alankuş, as also media-staff Haydar Tekin and Şehmus Fidan, were released from the prison in Tureky. They were all put in prison on 24 December 2011. The South East Europe Media Organisation has today welcomed the release of this group of journalists. However, there are still 44 journalists in prisons in Turkey.
Twitter in Turkey
Vienna, 21 March 2014
The International Press Institute (IPI) and its affiliate, the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), today expressed deep disappointment at efforts by Turkey to shut down access to Twitter ahead of local elections.
Reuters said that Twitter users in Turkey reported widespread outages today, with some browsers displaying a statement by Turkey’s telecommunications provider citing four court orders blocking the website.
Local elections are scheduled for March 30 amid an ongoing corruption scandal that has gripped the country since December and which allegedly involves high-level members of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in recent weeks has threatened to shut down social media websites, which have become a primary means for the release of wiretapped conversations that, if authentic, ensnare AKP members even further in the scandal.
IPI Press Freedom Manager Barbara Trionfi said: “Efforts to shut down Twitter in order to control the news are not only ultimately futile – they sadly move Turkey away from the embrace of human rights and the rule of law, and closer to autocracy. It’s been said that censorship is the lobby of dictatorship. What’s the point of democracy if you won’t give voters the possibility of making an informed decision?”
Erdogan said yesterday, before the ban was instituted: “We’ll eradicate Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic.”
However, media reported that many Turkish Twitter users were able to get around the ban and that #TwitterisblockedinTurkey became one of the top trending hashtags around the world.
Case of Anuska Delic and Case of Dejan Kaloh
Vienna, 18 March 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is monitoring the case of Anuska Delic, journalist working for the Slovenian daily Delo. The office of the state prosecutor has indicted Delic for allegedly published classified information. According to the Article 260 of the Criminal Law she could face up to three years of prison.
In November 2011 Anuska Delic, published three stories. In April 2013 she was indicted for publishing classified information on the basis of charges made by the intelligence service SOVA.
SEEMO is also monitoring in Slovenia the case Dejan Kaloh. His house was seached by police in January 2014. Kaloh is journalist and editor on the website www.politikis.si and author of the book Od partije do Patrie.
News from Turkey
Vienna, 12 March 2014
The International Press Institute (IPI) and its affiliate, the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), today welcomed news that the last journalist imprisoned in Turkey in connection with the alleged Ergenekon coup plot case has been released and they reiterated calls for the release of 50 other journalists still behind bars in the country.
Local sources reported that journalist Turhan Ozlu emerged from the Silivri Prison today. His release caps off a dramatic week that also saw the release of a number of other individuals convicted in the Ergenekon case, including journalists Deniz Yildirim, Tuncay Ozkan, Merdan Yanardag and Hikmet Cicek, as well as academic Yalcin Kucuk.
“We are extremely pleased to hear of these journalists’ release and to learn that no more journalists are currently behind bars in connection with the Ergenekon case,” IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie said. “However, Turkey still appears to be the top jailer of journalists in the world. We urge Turkish authorities to take this week’s progress a step further and release all journalists detained in connection with their work. We similarly call on authorities to drop criminal cases against journalists connected with their work, such as the charges presented in the OdaTV case.”
According to the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the Turkish Journalists Syndicate (TGS), 50 journalists remain imprisoned in Turkey, most for alleged links to the “Press Committee” of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), a group that the government labels the “urban wing” of the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Others are behind bars for alleged connections to banned leftist or Marxist groups.
Many journalists in Turkey also continue to face potential prison time, notably those in the OdaTV case, which is named for a news website that has been fiercely critical of Turkish authorities’ pursuit of investigations into various alleged coup plots. Authorities accuse the 13 defendants in that case – who include Kucuk as well as investigative reporter Ahmet Sik and IPI World Press Freedom Hero Nedim Sener – of having acted as the media wing of the Ergenekon plot, allegedly advancing it by questioning the government’s investigations.
The next hearing in the OdaTV case is scheduled for April 1.
Incidents in Croatia
Vienna, 12 March 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), said today that it was worried about a number of recent incidents of pressure on journalists and media in Croatia.
Ante Tomic, a writer and columnist with the daily Jutarnji List, reported that he was attacked on Feb. 23 while sitting in a cafe in the centre of the town of Split by an unknown man who dumped a bucket of faeces over Tomic’s head. Tomic said the man told him: “Now you can write about me again.”
SEEMO said it supported the Croatian Journalists Association (Hrvatsko novinarsko drustvo) in its calls for police to apprehend the assailant as soon as possible.
In another case, SEEMO expressed shock at reports that Carnival participants in the town of Omis burned an effigy symbolising Vinko Vukovic, a journalist from the daily Slobodna Dalmacija who has reported on corruption in the town. Local sources attributed the incident to supporters of a local politician.
SEEMO also said that it was surprised by accounts of pressure from Croatian financial authorities on the critical news portal Index.hr, which in recent years has reported on financial and other affairs in Croatia and in neighbouring countries.
“Every company, including Index, must respect all legal and financial regulations,” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said. “But what is astonishing is that other companies in Croatia that have bigger financial problems were not under similar pressure by the financial authorities. Authorities must hold all companies to an equal obligation to respect legal and financial regulations.”
Vujovic said that SEEMO would continue to monitor developments in the three cases, commenting: “All of these cases could have a negative influence on media freedom in Croatia.”
Vienna, 12 March 2014
Since the beginning of this week six journalists have been released from jail in Turkey: Tuncay Özkan, Merdan Yanardağ, Yalçın Küçük, Hikmet Çiçek, Deniz Yıldırım and Turhan Özlü. The South East Europe Media Organisation has today welcomed the release of all six journalists.
Vienna, 4 March 2014
The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is worried about he news that the Today's Zaman columnist Mumtaz'er Türköne has been sentenced to one year in prison. According to the court, sentences he wrote were highly critical of the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Türköne was found guilty of “openly insulting the memory of Atatürk”.